How I wish I could successfully upload pictures to do justice to the two days at Big Bay for the BBQ and Auction. I will do my best to describe the events. In my blog last year I talked a little bit about the ‘money’ that is in the area. I am not too sure why Stuart Island and the surrounding islands became ‘the place’ to buy and build something special, but I do know many many years ago John Wayne would come to the area in his yacht so maybe he played a part in how the area developed. In addition to the locals who live here year round and live frugally and year to year there are the very wealthy have huge compounds that seem to get larger each year. Dennis Washington, the 9th wealthiest person in the U.S has a place, the owner of London Drugs has the Sonoran Resort and Spa, Paccar has its land and docks, Ritchey Brothers (as in the huge auction company) have a large compound and a huger yacht. They also have a fishing guide company that has been around for years and years. There is another land owner named Mailman who is one of the largest builders in Canada if I got the story right. Anyway, in the 1980’s a local resident was bemoaning the decline is salmon. What he started as a desire to have more fish to catch became a huge grassroots cause to help with salmon recovery in the Phillips River. The BBQ/Auction celebrated it’s 3rd anniversary this year. Attendees are from all the surrounding islands and resorts and guests flown in by plane and helicopter to the compounds of the wealthy in the area. The event is held on the grassy area of the Stuart Island Community Dock marina. When we made our reservations for the two days Garry had asked the marina manager, Pierre, for a specific spot and we were fortunate to get it. Our boat was at the base of the ramp/dock that goes directly up to the grassy area where the event would take place. We watched volunteers set up tables, chairs, tents, bandstands, food areas, auction areas, portapotties and everything else you could think of. It is truly a labor of love for the community. Big ticket things like the band, food, bar are all donated by many of the people I mentioned earlier. They also donate many of the auction items. And many of their employees help as volunteers at the event.
The day of the event was beautiful. It started at 5:00 with the bar opening and appetizers and the silent auction items and raffle ticket items were open for bidding. Dinner was prepared by one of the chefs from one of the resorts. Oh, yeah… for about 300 people! 450 racks of ribs, countless chicken breasts, salmon, five kinds of salads, and other side dishes…. I am full just thinking about it again. The ribs were some of the best I have ever had! Then the desserts… fancy ones, lots of chocolate things, fresh fruit. It was fabulous. There was an opening act/singer while we ate who did a lot of Adele and Lourdes type songs. After dinner was the live auction then the band for dancing. The live auction was not huge but very successful. Ritchey Bros brought in one of their professional auctioneers and had Ritchey Bros spotters during the bidding. Old Man Ritchey (as Gar called him) with his walker was a kick to watch when he wanted to buy something. There was art, wine, jewelry, unique First Nation carved items, but the biggest item was dinner for 24 on the Boeing yacht. It was sold twice. Once for $30,000 and once for $20,000. Yikes. Altogether we think that over $200,000 was raised that night. But the cost to attend was very reasonable. It was $40 per person for dinner, drinks were $5 and a book of raffle tickets was $40. Garry bid on one silent auction item but did not win it, so we spent about $200 altogether and had the best time. We sat with new friends from Denham Bay and so got to meet more of the local people. When we went back to our boat we sat on the bridge looking back at the party and listening to the music. It was a blast and I would do it again!